ISIS Nears Extinction in Iraq
PM al-Abadi rips Obama, commends Trump for new strategies to boost U.S. war on terror
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the Islamic State has been nearly wiped out of his country during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Al-Abadi, who met with President Donald Trump last week at the White House, expressed confidence Iraq’s military efforts to defeat radical Islamic terrorism were close to ending in triumph. Although he admitted to host Chris Wallace that the Islamic State is still capable of conducting terror attacks with its diminishing resources, al-Abadi said to expect the elimination of the Islamic State’s physical footprint in Iraq in the next few weeks.
“President Obama didn’t want to get involved in the first place. He just wanted to just forget Iraq.”
“I think the defeat is definite and we will finish the job in a short time,” al-Abadi said.
As Iraqi and U.S. forces continue to struggle with the Islamic State over control of the city of Mosul, al-Abadi signaled that the focus will soon shift to the Islamic State’s hold in other Middle Eastern countries.
“That is where we need the efforts of others to flush them out of Syria and other places,” al-Abadi said.
“President Obama didn’t want to get involved in the first place. He just wanted to just forget Iraq,” al-Abadi said, noting that Trump seems to exhibit a much more “powerful determination to defeat” the Islamic State.
Following his meeting with Trump on March 20, al-Abadi told a group of reporters that he is “encouraging our allies and our friends [to] stay focused” while emphasizing the need to defeat the Islamic State “not only in Iraq, but in the region.”
“I think this administration wants to be more engaged in fighting terrorism,” al-Abadi said. “I sense a difference in terms of being head-to-head with terrorism.”
Trump and the Defense Department signaled a shift in U.S. strategies to defeat the Islamic State and boost counterterrorism efforts shortly after the president assumed office on Jan. 20. Trump also called on the Department of Defense to collaborate with other agencies to concoct a cohesive strategy to “obliterate” the Islamic State.
“As part of my pledge to restore safety for the American people, I have … directed the defense community to develop a plan to totally obliterate ISIS,” Trump said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February. “Working with our allies, we will eradicate this evil from the face of the earth.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis testified about the status of the agencies’ strategy during a congressional hearing Wednesday.
“We’ve got the skeleton plan put together. We’re fleshing it out,” Mattis said, adding that the finished product would be an “interagency-developed report” that promotes “economic, diplomatic, military, covert means.”
“We should have this done in the next couple of months, if that long,” Mattis added. “It may not even take us another month. But we’re still putting it together.”
Noting that the U.S. military “must ensure that the president and our diplomats always negotiate from a position of strength,” Mattis said that “global threats require a global response, applying the full weight of our own and our allies’ power, allies which are also increasing their defense outlays.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated that “defeating ISIS is the United States’ No. 1 goal” in the Middle East during a meeting of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS, held Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal. We must defeat ISIS,” Tillerson said. “I recognize there are many pressing challenges in the Middle East, but defeating ISIS is the United States’ No. 1 goal in the region.”
Part of the U.S. strategy, Tillerson emphasized, is more effectively equipping affected nations with the tools and support necessary to lead the fight on their own home soil.
“As a coalition, we are not in the business of nation-building or reconstruction,” Tillerson said. “We must ensure that our respective nations’ precious and limited resources are devoted to preventing the resurgence of ISIS and equipping the war-torn communities to take the lead in rebuilding their institutions and returning to stability.”
“While a more defined course of action is still coming together, I can say the United States will increase our pressure on ISIS and al-Qaida, and we will work to establish interim zones of stability to allow refugees to go home,” Tillerson added.
Back in February, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters that U.S. officials hope to become “good stewards of taxpayer dollars” even as defense spending is increased.
“This is not just a military plan,” Davis said of the plan Trump ordered to defeat the Islamic State. “It draws upon all elements of national power — diplomatic, financial, cyber, intelligence [and] public diplomacy, and it’s been drafted in close coordination with our interagency partners … This plan is truly transregional. This is not just about Iraq and Syria, it is about defeating ISIS around the globe.”